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Video: African-American Inventors

Georgia inventor and engineer Malcolm Johnson works at Kimberly Clark in Roswell and holds nine patents for inventions. Johnson knew from the third grade he wanted to be an inventor, i.e., come up with an idea for something new and make it. He was curious about the way things worked and liked to experiment. Chris Mitchell teaches Georgia students about African American inventors using original patents, documents, and photographs. Among African American inventors she recognizes are Grant Morgan from Cleveland, Ohio who designed the traffic signal we see every day. Important to World War I soldiers was the development of the gas mask to protect them from poison gasses used by the enemy. Lewis Latimer proposed the use of the carbon filament for light bulbs that allowed them to burn longer. He was hired by and was the only African American in Thomas Edison’s laboratory. Frederick McKinley Jones holds 60 patents. He designed the technology that adapted silent movie projectors and allowed them to show talking movies. His invention of the refrigerated truck allows fruits and vegetables to remain fresh when they are shipped across the country. His company, Thermo King, is still in business today. Malcolm Johnson knows inventors have a lot of confidence and curiosity. Wanting to know what, where, and why things happen keeps them focused and committed as they create new things. Does that sound like you?

Teacher tip: Are you an inventor? Rate or have a classmate rate your (a) curiosity, (b) self confidence, and (c) ability to focus on a problem on a scale of 1 through 5 with 5 being the highest.

Add up your responses and check your score.

12-15:move over Frederick McKinley Jones
6-11: stay focused, you may have talent

3-5:investigate another line of work